Beth Hart – Powerstation

DSC_1982I had a feeling this Beth Hart show might be something special…a preview of her about-to-be-released album, Better Than Home, indicated an artist bursting with talent…but her performance at Auckland’s Powerstation this Friday night was nothing short of a tour de force.

Beth Hart has history with New Zealand. She spent several weeks here back around 2003 while recovering for drug addiction. But she has never performed here with her band, an oversight which has thankfully been rectified.

Hart appeared on stage at 9:30, along and took her place behind the keyboard that was situated centre stage. The tattooed 43-year-old turned in a heartfelt version of Leave The Light on before introducing her band which consists of guitarists Jon Nichols and PJ Barth along with Bob Marinelli on bass and drummer Julian Rodriguez.

With the band in place, Beth stood up, grabbed her mic and showed what a powerful performer she is, prowling the stage while singing Delicious Surprise from her 1999 album, Screamin’ For My Supper. Dressed in a little black dress and showing off her gutsy big voice, Hart was clearly enjoying herself and that sense of fun was infectious, with the crowd singing and clapping along.

Next up was Can’t Let Go a tune Hart recorded with guitarist Joe Bonamassa. Strutting across the stage, hand on her hip, Beth Hart owned the song while the band rocked ferociously behind her.

“I’ve had about five cups of coffee!” admitted Hart, possibly explaining the energy level displayed on stage.

She then introduced Tell Her You Belong To Me, a highlight from the new album…a simmering slow burner inspired by her father and reminiscent of 60s r&b greats Otis Redding and Etta James.

From there it was back to the keyboard, where Hart let out a “Yee-haw!” as the electronic instrument started playing itself. The technical issue was quickly resolved and Beth settled in to play Bang Bang Boom Boom an interesting country-reggae tune that was mighty catchy.

Hart remained at the keyboard for five more tunes, each song seemingly more intense and passionate than the next.

Its one thing to have an incredible voice, but it’s quite another to be able to use that voice to convey such a wide range of emotions effectively, and that’s what separates Beth Hart from other contemporary “soul” singers. She really digs deep into self.

For I am The One, from her debut album back in 1996, Hart sat on the edge of the stage and let the music build up around her. The bluesy number reminded me of Big Mama Thornton’s Ball & Chain as done by Janis Joplin. By the end of the song, the intensity had built so much that Beth could no long sit, and she threw herself into the song disconnecting her ear monitor in the process. Fortunately husband/manager Scott Guetzkow was on hand to reconnect her.

Back at the keyboard, Beth dedicated Mechanical Heart to her hubby and wrapped up the set with a rocking, Trouble, urging everyone to put their hands in the air in the process.

For the encore, Hart threw out the set list, deciding to serenade the very happy audience with “some ballads for a while”.

Those ballads included a couple of tunes from the new album, St Teresa and We’re Still Living In The City, along with her 1999 hit, LA Song (Out Of This Town), which still packs a powerful emotional punch.

The night ended on a lighter note with The Stinky Feet Song, another tunes dedicated to her husband, who graciously emerged at the end and gave Beth a big hug.

With all the live music that’s happening in Auckland at the moment, I have a feeling this is going to be one that still stays with me months from now. The evening seemed to fly by, I could have listened to her for another two hours…what a performer!

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Michael Flynn:

Beth Hart set list:

  1. Leave The Light On
  2. Delicious Surprise
  3. Can’t Let Go
  4. For My Friend
  5. Tell Her You Belong To Me
  6. Bang Bang Boom Boom
  7. Tell Em To Hold On
  8. Monkey Back
  9. Good As It Gets
  10. Baddest Blues
  11. If I Tell You I Love You
  12. Waterfalls
  13. Am I The One
  14. Mechanical Heart
  15. Trouble
  16. St Teresa
  17. We’re Still Living In The City
  18. LA Song (Out Of This Town)
  19. The Stinky Feet Song